CEO Confessions: I Survived Two Weeks Away From The Office And So Can You

May 22, 2017

Van West Media is well on its way to becoming the digital agency I envisioned just eight years ago when I let my entrepreneurial spirit lead me down the path of starting my own business.

With nearly a dozen employees in New York City as well as development teams in Australia and Cuba, there have been so many lessons learned, hardships overcome, triumphs celebrated, and every day I must be prepared for the best, and the worst, and everything in between. Starting a business from scratch is a crazy thing to do.

The odds are stacked against you from the get-go. So many seemingly non-tangential things need to align at the right moment, rather moments, including new ideas, the right clients, partners, perseverance, clarity of mind, money, etc.

But the real fabric of success for many businesses, mine especially, is the quality of talent, the creativity, and the passion that is woven into and embodied in the employee pool that the founder creates. Though I knew that I had spent years building a great multi-dimensional team of outside-of-the-box thinkers and creative doers , I didn’t fully appreciate the power of this until a recent trip I took with my family to Italy.

“Sure, Florence is touristy. But where else can you stroll the same pedestrian streets walked by Michelangelo, Leonardo, and Botticelli while savoring the world’s best gelato?” – (source)

This past April my family and I took a much-needed trip to Italy.  We spent a week in Florence where we had the good fortune of staying with old friends, taking in new sites, and over indulging in the ridiculously delicious local cuisine. As luck would have it (i’m actually not a huge believer in luck) we found ourselves in Florence for their incredible Easter celebrations culminating in, as you will see from the video below, the Scoppio del carro or “Explosion of the Cart”. The timing could not have been more perfect. Exploring the city with my family, the arts, the rich tradition and faith were all so stimulating and enthralling that I almost forgot about all the work that was simultaneously occurring back in New York City.

The website launches, the social media strategy proposals, the vast data migration to new web servers, etc. Everything was going according to the plan that my team and I had created before I left for Italy. More importantly, everything was going according to the larger plan that I had created when I first started Van West Media. That was to seek and hire talent that individually made Van West Media stronger, but as a team, made the agency stronger still. That is, no inflated egos, no crazy hierarchy, no silos, just talented and motivated members of a team doing what is best for our clients and in turn what is best for Van West Media.

This is why my much-needed trip to Italy was such a success. Not only was I able to have an incredibly memorable and artistically invigorating trip to the birthplace of the Renaissance with my family, I was able to enjoy it all without anxiety or worry about my business back home. This is not to say that I fully checked out. According to the plan, I checked in with the team briefly twice a week and used our agency’s internal Slack channel as well as BaseCamp to stay abreast of any issues and needs. But distance and disparate time zones don’t really matter anymore. Technology has paved the way for clear and constant communication among all parties, at all times.

That is why I have made it a high priority to ensure that Van West Media has the most efficient and effective channels to help ensure that both our internal and external communications run smoothly.

 

Because these communications are so transparent and practical, I was able to maintain a healthy work/family balance from over 4000 miles away. While I was gone, my team initiated a host of new engagements, effectively managed existing client expectations, completed and launched a new website for Broadpeak, and let me truly enjoy my vacation with my family. The Broadpeak launch, in particular, was an important project that was on a very tight schedule. Using tools like Slack allowed me to remain constantly updated with the design team and client requests leading up to the launch.

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Van West Media has seen tremendous growth in our agency over the course of the last twelve months. Before my trip, I was a bit anxious to be out of the office during a particularly busy time for our agency. But I now realize more than ever that I can safely take the occasional, and incredible, family vacation. That’s because I know full well that my agency is in more than capable hands with the team that I have assembled and the communications platforms that we have implemented.